Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 20, 2004

City doesn't rig the election of tenant councils

The Sun's article "Cherry Hill tenant group president ousted in election organized by city" (Feb. 10) was inflammatory and misleading. The implication that the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) organized Loretta R. Johnson's ouster is untrue and insulting to the dedicated volunteer tenant council leaders and the tenants who vote for them. Please allow me to set the record straight.

Baltimore's public housing tenant councils are comprised of public housing residents while another elected group, the Resident Advisory Board (RAB), oversees their efforts. The RAB, not HABC, chooses election dates and oversees the entire election process.

Moreover, the RAB and all 29 tenant councils are completely independent from HABC leadership or influence.

The article goes on to imply that the Housing Authority organized Ms. Johnson's ouster in retaliation for her opposition to previous development proposals. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While it is true that Ms. Johnson, as past president of the Cherry Hill Homes Tenant Council, vetoed previous public housing proposals, HABC faces much bigger obstacles to redeveloping Cherry Hill.

Ironically, a partial consent decree, signed by a previous administration to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Ms. Johnson and other public housing residents by the American Civil Liberties Union prohibits HABC from spending public housing funds for new construction in areas such as Cherry Hill which have a high concentration of low-income residents.

I am confident that a more balanced story would have shown that HABC is much more capable of planning and developing safe and attractive public housing for Cherry Hill residents than of rigging tenant council elections.

Paul T. Graziano

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the HABC.

Cleaner buses are a better bargain

The citizens of Maryland may be better served by investing in cleaner buses rather than in bus-tracking technology ("Buck Rogers buses," editorial, Feb. 13).

Maryland ranks third among states in estimated cancer deaths from airborne toxins -- of which diesel-powered buses are a significant source. Dramatic emissions reductions for buses could be achieved at one-fifth of the expense of GPS tracking.

As outlined in a 2000 report by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, converting the entire city Maryland Transit Administration fleet to ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and retrofitting buses with particulate traps would cost approximately $7,000 per bus, much less than the $30,000 per bus cost of GPS technology.

Let's pursue the course of action with the most benefits to our region and public health.

Michael Trush

Baltimore

The writer is deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center in Urban Environmental Health.

Blackout conceals consequences of war

Gus G. Sentementes' article on the Defense Department's media blackout policy at Dover Air Force Base points out pretty clearly what has been missing from most of our lives since the start of the war on terror: Any real connection to the men and women asked to serve and sacrifice for their country ("Few Americans see caskets come home," Feb. 17) .

Our president has declared himself a "war president." Why then shouldn't we be asked to be a war citizenry and become involved in some more meaningful way than shopping or checking the ticker to see what the threat level is.

The blackout should be lifted not out of morbid curiosity but so we can bear witness to the very real consequences of what it means to be at war.

Those who have given their lives deserve our respect and we should do more to honor their memory.

Brian James Shields

Baltimore

Sun also shrouds Iraq casualties

I find it ironic that The Sun's front-page article "Few Americans see caskets come home" (Feb. 17) laments the fact that few Americans see the caskets of our dead soldiers as they come home because of the Bush administration's media blackout. Meanwhile, The Sun reports the death of two more of our soldiers on Page 11 ("Blasts kill two U.S. soldiers, Iraqi boy playing at school," Feb. 17).

It seems to me that The Sun, and much of the other media, including television, play right into the "spin" of this administration.

The Sun needs to rethink its policy on how these deaths are reported. The American public needs to see these war casualties on the front pages. And these deaths deserve the honor of the front page.

Tony Ferrara

Catonsville

No need to indulge the impatient

After reading "Maryland drivers keeping pace with nation's speeders" (Feb. 15), I have to wonder where the common sense of our governmental officials has gone.

The quote by Tom Hicks, director of the highway administration's office of traffic and safety -- "We're firm believers that traffic is able to set its own speed and do it very well. Why have a number out there that everybody disobeys?" -- defies imagination, sound judgment and intelligence.

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